Sunday, 11 March 2012

Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse? by Max Brallier

Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse? by Max Brallier is a throwback to the old fighting fantasy books that were popular in the 1980's, where you chose how the story progressed. You were presented with numbered chapters that ended with a choice you had to make like for example, if you want to fight the orc go to 234, or if you want to run away go to 89. I quite liked them but found that their biggest drawback was that most combats had to be resolved by rolling a dice. This meant you couldn't read them anywhere as you needed a dice and somewhere flat to roll it. Plus, your fate was often decided by that very roll of the dice.
Thankfully, Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse? avoids that pitfall by getting rid of all dice rolls. You survive or fail purely by the decisions you make. This is actually a two-edged blade, as sometimes the "right" decision can get you killed.
The story is set in contemporary New York and you're a twenty-five year old office worker, living in an overpriced studio apartment in Manhattan. Nothing exciting has ever happened to you, until that fateful July morning when everything changes and the dead return to life.
I read this book once, with every intention of surviving and reacting to situations as I thought I would if the hero was me. To my delight, I did survive the zombie apocalypse. Then, I realised I'm going to have to review this book and that means reading it again and again and again until I've read every chapter. I'd note where I was and if I died, I'd just go back to a previous point and make a different choice. This wasn't as big a chore as it might have been. After about two weeks of reading I eventually covered every choice you can make in the book. What made the task so enjoyable was mainly down to Max Brallier's writing style. He writes with a lot of humour and the story can head off in directions you'd just never imagine. There are a lot of pop culture references and loads of imaginative ways to kill a zombie, or be killed by a zombie. It is a very easy book to read and due to the nature of the narrative, it's a book you can read anywhere - in bed (as I did), whilst travelling to work (although not if you're driving!), in a waiting room  or even whilst sitting on the toilet. Once you've survived or died, just start again and choose a different path to take. There's enough to keep you entertained for many an hour.
I should point out that if you are a parent and you think your kids might enjoy this, then think again. The gore and violence probably won't bother them but be advised, there is a lot of swearing in the book and adult situations like drug taking and visiting a strip club.
There are two explanations given for the zombie apocalypse, which you can discover if you make the right choices. One is the boring old chestnut of a secret laboratory experiment that went wrong. Hardly original! The second explanation is so far out of the field, I'm sure that Mr. Brallier had to be drug addled to come up with it. Should I tell you it or not? Oooh, decisions, decisions! Okay, I'll fudge it. If you get to meet Tom Savini (special effects make up maestro) he'll tell you a very interesting story about George Romero. If you want to know more you'll have to buy the book, but as far as zombie apocalypse origins go it is one I guarantee you'll never have heard before!
One thing that I did find strange about this book is the cover. I have no complaints about the artwork, but it has been done in a style that makes it look distressed. There are crease marks painted down the spine to make it look like a second hand or much used book. Why the publishers would want to present the book in this manner is beyond me. But be warned if you see the book in a shop and think it looks tatty, it is meant to look that way!
The blurb on the back of the book states that there are 100 paths to take and 50 endings to choose from. This is wrong. There are 150 paths and 75 endings. Of those endings, 40 end in death, 20 end in zombification and just 15 end in survival. I thought this was a fun book to read and I certainly enjoyed reading it multiple times in my quest to discover every ending. Even if you're not a fan of these types of fighting fantasy books this one is better than most. I'm fairly sure it is unique in using this format to cover the zombie apocalypse and so I'll happily give it an 8 out of 10 rating.

27 comments:

  1. Ohhh, I love this kind of book, in Italy we call them "Libri Game" ("libri" means books)!

    Who is the editor?

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    1. I forgot to mention that it is published by Gallery Books and also, that it is available as an e-book.

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  2. Sounds fantastic. I'll pick up a copy tomorrow. I loved those old Lonewolf and fighting fantasy books.

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    1. Those were the days, eh, Lead Legion?

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  3. Sounds Great Bryan I will certainly give it a go

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    1. If you enjoy it even half as much as I did, you won't regret it.

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  4. I never was a fan of the Fantasy Fighting books but this does sound like a more-updated "modern" version. The fact that a die is unnecessary is also a plus, however the e-book version is currently at £5.99 from Amazon, so I'll be giving this a miss for the moment.

    Good review Bryan.

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    1. Thanks, Joe. Actually, I did enjoy the old Fighting Fantasy books but i like this a lot more. It is clearly aimed at adults and doing away with dice rolls for combat is a big thumbs up.

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  5. Sounds like fun, I remember reading similar fantasy type books back in the 80's, when I were a lad!!!!!

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    1. They seemed to reach a peak in the 1980's and then gradually just faded away. I was glad to see the format brought back to life in typical zombie fashion.

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  6. I have this book and its good fun.

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    1. Thanks, Henry's Tat. I thought the book was a lot of fun, too.

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  7. Thanks, my daughter lives zombies stuff and we are watching together The Walking Dead on TV. I'll buy her the ebook for the Kindle

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    1. If you and your daughter both watch and enjoy The Walking Dead then you ought to love this book.

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  8. That's a nice review. And in typical Vampifan fashion you went the extra mile and went through all 75 endings. :)

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    1. Yes, I did, Joe, because I think you're worth it! :)

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  9. Fabulous thanks again for the review.

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    1. Thanks , Irqan. Check in on Wednesday for an important announcement about this book.

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  10. Sounds like a blast especially as there's technically on 15 survivor endings, might have to get this one.....

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    1. Yes, there are far more chances of dying than surviving, but as often as not that's because you,ve made a stupid decision. Should I attack this zombie with a fire axe... or a pencil? If you choose pencil you deserve to get ripped apart.

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  11. Really solid piece of work here! Sounds like a good movie too.

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    1. It's definitely not a movie, but it has more than enough good ideas for a movie or two.

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  12. Fantastic review Bryan. Been considering this for a while, now I'm sold.

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    1. Thanks, Adam. Make sure to check back tomorrow, when I have an important announcement to make about this novel.

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    2. Oooh... exciting. Will do sir!

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